Stuart company working to clean algae at local marina

Posted at 8:34 PM, Jul 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 18:53:37-04

A Stuart company trying to clean up the algae mess at a Martin County boat yard says it’s making progress.

The company, Ecosphere Technologies, says it got the green light from the DEP today to continue its efforts and the owners of the boat repair company say the water looks a lot different than it did just days ago.

Boats are waiting to be fixed, business is slow. Outboards Only co-owner Phil Norman says his boat repair business is in trouble. All because of a thick, smelly carpet of algae that won’t go away.

“I couldn't get any work done,” said Norman. “I’ve got eight or nine vessels ready to go to the water to test but i can't test them.”

Now, thanks to all this equipment he believes things could be changing.

“Now, it's actually pretty clean,” said Phil. “I can't even smell it so it's very good.”

For three days now Ecosphere has been running high-tech equipment, an experiment to try to remove the algae from the water.

“100% of the water going through the machine is being destroyed and broken down,” said Corey McGuire, the marketing director for Ecosphere. “And then we're putting treated water back into the marina.”

State Representative Gayle Harrell says she stepped in to help clear the way to keep this experiment going.

“If this is successful, which it looks like it's going to be very successful, there are many other places it can be used,” said State Rep. Harrell. “So let's go ahead and do the paperwork get things expedited and move forward so we can solve this problem.”

This afternoon, a scientist from DEP collected water samples and toured the site.

Martin county says it’s been monitoring all this, and have been in touch with the state about this experimental clean up effort.

A county spokeswoman sent this statement:

“Martin County has been advised by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) that any technology that may be considered for use to assist with blue-green algae clean up must be reviewed and approved by FDEP for regulatory compliance and to ensure appropriate protections for occupational exposure.  Martin County continues to strongly advocate for assistance from the State of Florida on responding to the crisis in our waterways as detailed in Resolution Number 16-6.12, passed by the Board of County Commissioners on July 6, 2016, including assistance with clean up.

We have been in contact with FDEP today, FDEP has advised they are committed to expediting approvals for potential technologies that could assist with blue green algae clean up.  They want to quickly assist us with addressing areas where algae has accumulated in basins, but must go through some due diligence procedures to ensure worker safety and to avoid secondary impacts from remediation activities.”

Water tests will help determine just how much algae the system can clear out of the water. Ecosphere says if this does turn out to be the answer, they’re prepared to do more.

“We have the people and the equipment ready to deploy,” said McGuire. “We have 60 of these machines around the USA we can pull from a tremendous amount of resources.”

“We have a crisis on our hands,” said State Rep. Harrell. “We need to look for every means for solving this crisis.”

We’ll know more about the effectiveness of this experiment once air quality results come back.

The county did air quality tests here as well, and we should know the results of those soon.